Everything Can Change

by David Rovics

What do you call it when a movement takes up arms And seizes power by the barrel of a gun Moves into the homes of those they've dispossessed And says this whole country is ours now that we've won What do you call a government that forces families from their homes And turns them into refugees All the while complaining of these dirty tent-dwellers That it's they who want to drive us into the sea What do you call a government that builds walls around the ghettos And only looks at you through sniper sights Who uses your cheap labor to build those very walls While they tell the world how they believe in human rights What do you call a government that makes war upon their neighbors Who annexes land for living room Who conducts a foreign policy based on threats and bombing raids Whose opponents often end up in a prison or a tomb What do you call a government who talks of enemies within And seals off the camps to make sure they cannot eat Who keeps their prisoners on diets to guarantee an early death With their mantra, history cannot repeat What do you call a government that puts numbers on the arms Of the people that they torture and arrest Whose soldiers commit war crimes systematically While they proclaim their conduct is superior at best What do you call a government that bombs its starving subjects After taking from them everything they had Whose citizens are soldiers, brainwashed to believe Their opponents are fanatics, terrorists or mad What do you call it when a movement takes up arms And seizes power by the barrel of a gun Moves into the homes of those they've dispossessed And says this whole country is ours now that we've won
Khader Adnan grew up near Jenin City You could say he was a product of his time Ever since he was a kid he'd get arrested Though he was never charged with any crime Spending half his life in prison A life lived like so many of his friends Arbitrary and indefinite detention Never knowing if your jail time would end Khader Adnan was arrested last December Again he wasn't told the reason why He was shackled, he was beaten, he was tortured There beneath the Middle Eastern sky Perhaps there was a moment when he realized That right then, with his body, he'd say no But from then on he refused to eat another meal Like in Belfast not many years ago Khader Adnan grew up in a war zone But all the tanks and planes were only on one side It was a type of war that they call occupation Settlement, removal, fratricide And anyone who talked about resistance Who thought they did not deserve to be a slave Would be looking down the barrel of a gun And often find themselves inside an early grave Khader Adnan loves his wife and daughters And he likes to eat his daily bread But in prison he can't see his children Or live life with the lady that he wed So on behalf of all the children without fathers He decided he had to strike a blow He said I will have dignity or death Each time Khader Adnan was arrested In prison he would learn a little more And soon he became the teacher And he'd talk about the times that came before They talked about civil disobedience They talked about the ballot and the gun They talked about the Occupied Six Counties And the H Blocks in 1981 Khader Adnan talked of perseverance And how someday their people might be free How someday they might hear their children laughing Unafraid, how someday things could be And then at 3:30 on one morning The soldiers came, their rifles pointed low And they took Khader Adnan from his family They say Khader Adnan is a terrorist Just like they said of Bobby Sands Because he dares speak out against injustice Because he dares to make a stand Because he dares believe that he is human And he does not deserve to live this way Because he dares to consider an alternative Because he dares imagine a new day Khader Adnan lost his liberty before he was born To fight for life it's death he must embrace But just like others come before him There are others waiting to take his place And even the great powers can lose interest In supporting such a vicious status quo Because you can't break a man who won't be broken
Vanunu 03:32
I was born in Marakesh and I thought life was good Then some visitors came from far away, convinced my parents that we should Move from Marakesh to Israel, what they called the Promised Land That's how we ended up in Beersheva by the Negev Desert sand I turned 18 and joined the Army, that's what everybody did I learned to blow up bridges just like every other kid I learned how to fire weapons, I learned how to shoot to kill Then I studied engineering and learned many other skills I got a job, paid the rent, working just like you I just did what I had to do As the years went by I learned many things And I wondered what to do with the burden knowledge brings I learned about the massacres committed in my name After Sabra and Shatila life could never be the same But I got up every morning, worked til the day was through Working in the desert I did what I was told Though I'd long ago rejected the bill of goods I had been sold I was supposed to ask no questions but as the years passed by I discovered what was going on there beneath the clear blue sky I snuck a camera into work one day as my suspicions grew Once I left the country I could sit no longer on the fence I met with a reporter and displayed the evidence Of the secret nuclear arsenal which I had helped to make I had to blow the whistle for humanity's sake The world simply had to find out the things my commanders knew Mossad came to get me on the streets of Rome Brought me in a boat back to my adopted home After 18 years of torture in a tiny prison cell On the streets some people ask me how I lived so long in hell Each morning when I woke up I remembered it was true
A corporation doesn't have to feed a familyA corporation cannot be unemployed A corporation can't get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Heart disease, brain tumors or hemroids A corporation is set up with one motive And that is not to judge what's right or fair A corporation's only goal is making money That's why a corporation doesn't care A corporation can never sense the breeze upon its skin Never know what it's like to miss a meal A corporation doesn't have to worry Because a corporation cannot feel A corporation can never know the beauty It cannot wake up in a grove of ancient trees It only sees a hundred thousand dollars And some mill jobs it can ship out overseas A corporation can't care for a child Sickened by a toxic oil spill A corporation only stands to profit From interest on the loan for the hospital bill A corporation never goes to funerals Of any victims who may die along the way A corporation cannot feel remorse A corporation never really has to pay A corporation doesn't have a mouth But it often has many a mouthpiece A corporation cannot shoot a gun But it can employ an army of police A corporation can never go to prison No matter how horrible the crime But a corporation can send lobbyists to Congress To make sure more of us are doing time A corporation doesn't feel the pain Of a child raised by a TV set And the corporations will just get bailed out If their clients fall too deeply into debt Corporations can't be rounded up and shot A corporation can't be tortured through the night A corporation can't be blown up by an IED A corporation cannot ever see the sight A corporation can't be killed by a tsunami A corporation cannot drown beneath the tide A corporation doesn't care who wins the war If they can just sell weapons to both sides A corporation exists only to make money A corporation never questions why A corporation doesn't suffer consequences Because a corporation doesn't live and doesn't die
I'd say the verdict now is clear Capitalism really sucks Privatizing everything for years Left most of us shit outta luck The dreams most of us once had are dead The jobs around don't pay Shit I barely have a roof over my head And I've heard most of my neighbors say If this is the glory of the market Tent City, USA Then let's take this powder keg and spark it After all it's the American Way Let us now look through a different prism Let us work for the common good Let us put an end to capitalism Let us do now as we should Kick it while it's down The capitalists are parasites The bane of society They don't give a shit for human rights All they care about is money The billionaires buy the Congress Then they make up all the rules So if voting is no way to seek redress Then we must use other tools Half the country is in drought Burning up and blowing away It's a climate crisis there's no doubt But be that as it may The market says it's time to drill for oil The market says cut down all the trees The market says build pipelines 'neath the soil But in recent years the market's on its knees We need solar panels not coal mines We need food not bombs But the market doesn't care about the bread lines Or your hungry mom The market only cares about the market What's behind the guarded gate So you can take your limousine and park it Trade it in for a welfare state
Life used to be so normal I remember how normal it was Take a shower, eat breakfast, go to work every morning Do the things a fella does We paid our mortgage every month Managed that OK But when the mortgage doubled Then we couldn't pay And now life takes a turn I never had supposed Living in a dream foreclosed I'd go off to work My kids would go to school I even joined the Army once Now I feel like such a fool It's not that life was easy then But at least it made some sense You weren't worried about freezing to death Not like living in these tents You weren't worried about the cops Getting out a firehose Lots of folks in town don't realize How we're living these days But you can see it in the childrens' Thousand-mile gaze I've got a head full of home movies About all the things I miss They say we need four walls But they weren't talking of walls like this Maybe we'll go find another country to live in 'Cause life in this one blows
In the land of Minnie Mouse and Mickey things are getting icky Since the municipality Of Orlando, Florida passed a moritaria Against feeding hungry people in their city The mayor said with a scoff we'd all be better off Without these food terrorists lurking like a shark So he did declare -- semaritans beware! No more feeding hungry people in the park And if you do you'd better raise your bail 'Cause you will be fined five hundred bucks and sent to jail There are many things that you can do when you're passing through That are much more acceptable than that Go on amusement rides, eat things that are fried Buy each one of your kids a little hat You can stay in a hotel, pretend everything is swell Go to Sea World and hear the seals bark But whatever else you have in mind you will be in a bind If you feed the hungry people in the park Yes you can drink some wine, have yourself a good time Have a good vacation, then retire But if you want to stir up trouble, if you'd deign to pop the bubble And try to feed the hungry people of the shire In such a public place, we can't suffer such disgrace Though the logic may seem a little stark What would the neighbors say, where will the children play If you keep feeding hungry people in the park
First you have to have a problem That part isn't hard The second step is everybody realizing They're like you -- they're holding the same card Step three is finding there's a tactic When everyone believes it could be true That if all the people work collectively There just might be something we can do Everything can change so quick The Congressmen and businessmen and TV sets Will try hard to make sure it isn't so "You don't have a problem and if you do it's not the SAME problem "And if it is, well, there's just nowhere you can go" But it's happened many times, the history is rich Though we easily forget How a meme can take hold and grab you How it can spread out like a net They'll say that we are lost, or we're dreaming Or they'll make a dream for us They'll try to come up with a good story, a convincing narrative About why we belong at the back of the bus About why we belong in this position About how we don't know what we meant About how there most certainly isn't any such thing As the 99%
The Twin Towers came down in 2001 Bush said Bin Laden must pay for what he'd done The Taleban offered to turn him over to a court But the USA said to them we'll have nothing short Of an invasion of your country by imperial command We'll bomb your villages, steal your land Your children can cower in fear just before they die As the comets of Kandahar are streaming through the sky We'll overthrow your government and put there in its place A kleptocratic oil man, a national disgrace Who can bleed your country dry, make sure your people pay While we kill innocent civilians every single day With missile strikes from above the clouds, an F-33 And we'll call it liberation, we'll call it democracy We'll send the death squads out to kill you if you dare to question why And as your nation crumbles, as the rubble turns to dust As the Russian tanks and helicopters blacken with the rust As the children die and their parents take up arms To defend their dignity, their religion, their cities and their farms Canadian crusaders will meet the fate of ages Facing men who say of them as the battle rages If I had a rocket launcher some son of a bitch would die
Pipeline 02:23
As soon as they started drilling for oil they started building pipelines On the seabed, through the forests and across the borderlines As soon as they started laying the pipe they said we'll do this safely There will never be an accident, we can do this carefully But the sands shift, the ice melts, disasters are routine Point out their record of destruction and they'll say their hands are clean Point out their woeful deeds and they'll consult their banker And say it's safer to use a pipeline than an oil tanker So now they want to see how far their madness it can go A pipeline from the Tar Sands to the Gulf of Mexico The tar sands lie in the north beneath Alberta's ground As the price of oil rises and the oil men have found Now there's profit to be made in a madman's dream By drilling deep beneath the Earth, blasting it with steam Bulldozing the land, melting what's inside A record of extinction a thousand miles wide But laying waste to the northern plains is evidently not enough The capitalists need markets where they can sell this toxic stuff So across the farms and prairies the oil now must flow A pipeline from the Tar Sands to the Gulf of Mexico Governors oppose it and every native band Ranchers don't want it passing through their land Union leaders have denounced it as have the rank and file The President delayed it for just a little while They say you can't stop progress, I hope that isn't true 'Cause if we mine the tar sands, if we let the pipeline through It will be a pipeline to oblivion, a pipeline to the end A pipeline to a future with nothing round the bend A pipeline to a future that I hope we'll never know A pipeline from the Tar Sands to the Gulf of Mexico
Houseboat 02:38
I was staying with a friend in Hackney One day I took a walk to a canal I got swept up as I wrote By a man in a trench coat Who lived inside a ship called Happy Sal I asked him if he missed life off the water He said no, he didn't give that any mind I just live here with the flow Going where the rivers go So glad to leave that landlord far behind I want to live in a houseboat on the river I want the locks to pick me up and let me down I want the morning dew to make me shiver As I ride from Hebden Bridge to London town We moored on the banks right by the commons Where we had front row seats to the fair We stayed about a week Then we drifted down the creek Our destination: anywhere Some folks just really want to be Upstanding members of society Well whatever floats your boat Have a castle with a mote While I drift along the valley to the sea
The survivors will hug and tell their stories With flashing lights the living and the dead Will be taken to the morgues and to the hospitals We'll hear about the last words that they said At least if it was a notable occasion Like if it happened just down the road from Columbine If the victims numbered in the dozens The murder plan especially malign The governor will talk about the senselessness The madness that must explain the crime Some will ask about the guns, six thousand rounds of ammunition He bought legally all at the same time If the murders were especially dramatic This man will have his week of fame But by around this time next year Just a few will remember his name Fewer still will remember his victims In this great nation that seems to have no peer And who can blame us for our amnesia With fourteen thousand killed by guns last year But for now they'll talk about his methods They'll ask how he came to be this way They'll hire more policemen in the theaters It's another massacre in the USA They'll ask about his schooling Who could have seen these warning signs Some will ask why he had access To buying an assault combine Former victims will speak out on the TV They'll have a platform for just a little while Until something else takes over Like a storm or a fire or the latest summer style They'll talk about violent films and video games The social disconnection of the youth They'll talk about the cubicles and headsets With each one separated in a little booth They'll talk about bullying in schools They'll talk about all sorts of social ills They'll ask if he smoked marijuana And if he was on any kinds of pills The corpses will be removed from the theater They'll replace the seats and wash away blood stains The NRA will lay low for a week or two While pouring money into electoral campaigns The President will praise the First Responders And ask God for these madmen to be cured The Assault Weapons Ban will be voted down in Congress And the next massacre will be assured
Wal-Mart 02:02
There’s a thousand acres becoming clear Cut down the forest, the big one’s here Cover the ground with a mass of tar Make sure there’s room for every car One floor half mile massive sprawl One store wonder super mall It’s spreading out far and wide Taking over the countryside Say goodbye to your forests, they’re going down Wal-Mart is coming to town Your sons and daughters will have a fit At the mountains of plastic shit Chinese prisoners will sweat and bleed And you’ll get all the stuff you need Walton’s children profits reap Buying low and selling cheap And what happens to mom and pop Turn the key and close the shop Say goodbye to your city, it’s shutting down There goes the local department store See the diner shut it’s door No more neighbors you can meet More ghosts than people on the street No more jobs with living pay Sam Walton took it all away Beneath fluorescent lights they’ll work you bare The lucky ones can get on welfare Forget your children’s cap and gown
You can say you are a man of the people And you have our interests in mind You can say you stand with the working class And you would march on our picket lines You can say you're with the underdogs Not the billionaires on Wall Street And you look so earnest as you shake the hands Of all the good people you meet But you don't fool me You can call yourself a man of action You can say we've got to make haste You can talk so convincingly About all the hazards we face You can talk about green jobs With nukes and natural gas You can reminisce about your youth And the time that you smoked some grass You can say you are a man of peace You can talk like you know the score Yeah, if you were in the Senate at the time You would've voted against the war You can say that every drone Strikes a blow for liberty You claim this is not an empire You just want everyone to be free You can make a speech about hope and change You can bring us all to tears You can list all your accomplishments Say give us four more years You can make the case your party is So different from the other You can say that you have got my back You can call yourself my brother
Wilson said he was an isolationist And he would not send our young men off to die But as soon as he won the race for president That turned out to be just another lie Truman said he wouldn't kill civilians And he didn't want to hurt nobody's mom But as soon as he had the opportunity He went and dropped the fucking atom bomb Kennedy, he said he was a man of peace But with the battle plan unfurled He sent the US Navy to the Cuban shore And then he just about blew up the world Democrats make me wanna vomit Liberals make me wanna hack They love to talk like they are friends of you and me And then every time they stab us in the back Every time they stab us in the back Then there is that guy we knew as LBJ He was the one for “great society” He sent his Air Force down to blow up Vietnam To make sure that those folks were good and free Jimmy was the one who talked of human rights Human rights for everybody, ha ha ha He was opposed to dictatorship and torture That's why he loved Suharto and the Shah Bill was from a little town in Arkansas He was just another Joe That's why when all the people said don't do it He went and signed the WTO Some people might think I'm cynical And I don't know why that would be So even though they voted for the war Now I'm going for Barack and Hilary
I met you in a chat room on the web, discussing war and peace The relationship of land disputes, climate and other indices It was your punctuation that first made me want to see your face But this was before Facebook, that's how it was back then in cyberspace Then one night I fell asleep and woke up having dreamed The world had shifted a bit, things weren't as they seemed And when I googled "sunshine" you came up first page, first line Strange to feel nostalgic for someone I never met I'd never seen your picture but I'd think of you and sweat But then there came the conference where you and I would both present And we had lunch together on the campus in a tent And in person you shone brighter even than on my computer screen I was almost forty then but I felt about thirteen That was a long time ago and well now here we are I'm driving down the highway wishing you were in the car But I know when I get home you'll be standing there Glowing with the warmth of a little solar flare And later when you're sleeping I'll look at you and sigh I'll wonder how there there ever came to be such a thing as you and I
I'm a big fan of the season, I like this time of year When everyone's out shopping and drinking lots of beer When folks are taking holidays to visit mom and dad Telling jokes and stories about good times they had But when I leave the house to go most anywhere I find myself accosted and now it's more than I can bear So to the scum who run Clearchannel I must offer this rebuke If I hear another Christmas song I think I'm gonna puke Well I like going sledding, riding in a sleigh In fact I might just take my kid to a good hill today But if I hear those jingle bells ring one more fucking time I might just lose my shit in Macy's and commit an awful crime Next time I go out shopping it won't be a pretty sight When I hear one more person crooning about Christmas being white I wish I could make Sinatra eat his god damn uke If I hear another Christmas song I think I'm gonna puke I just love those furry reindeer and I'd like to see one fly And I'd like to see a red-nosed one light up the night-time sky But all five hundred versions of it make me feel so bleak When I have to hear each one of them a thousand times a week I don't care if it's a big band, rock & roll or what Each time I hear that ballad I can feel it in my gut I start getting queasy like I just swallowed Santa's tewk If I hear another Christmas song I think I'm gonna puke Now I'm sure Frosty was a good guy, he was made of snow And I'm sure that the North Pole is a place I'd like to go But if they play that song again on the radio Then there's something that seems only fair for you all to know Next time I go out to a restaurant or walk into a store It's quite likely I will make a big mess upon the floor It will be an accident but it will not be a fluke 'Cause if I hear another Christmas song I think I'm gonna puke


Early in 2013 I spent a day at Big Red Studio in Corbett, Oregon recording guitar and vocal parts to 17 songs, most of which I wrote over the course of the past year, mostly about politics, war and peace, US, Canadian and Israeli war crimes, hunger, homelessness, the usual stuff... We sent the tracks to Florida, where Alejandro Arenas and Jun Bustamante did their magic to each song at Alejandro's studio in St. Pete.


released May 18, 2013




David Rovics Portland, Oregon

Singer/songwriter, writer, podcaster (on Spotify, Substack & Patreon), anarchist, dad, lover of life.


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